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Swindon teenager is bullied out of class
TEENAGER Jaydene Roberts has spoken out about her ordeal at the hands of bullies who have forced her out of school.
The 15-year-old has suffered both mental and physical abuse since September as former friends turned on her and made her life a living hell, with the hatred and venom sent through social networking sites so serious that bundles of messages have been passed to police, who are investigating.
The cyber-bullying also spilled over into physical violence and intimidation within school, so much so her parents Michelle and Mike claim they were told by a senior staff member that they could not guarantee her safety.
But after being promised provision would be arranged for Jaydene to carry on and finish her GCSEs outside school, the family say they are frustrated nothing has come to fruition so far while her bullies continue with their education.
Mum Michelle, 39, said: “When we saw the messages online we went into the school and said we need to see someone.
“We spoke to (senior vice principal) Geoff Cherrill and when he saw the messages he looked at me and said ‘this has gone to another level now and I cannot guarantee Jaydene’s safety in school’.
“That is when we had to take her out of school and we wouldn’t have done it otherwise.”
Mr Cherrill said the school are attempting to find alternative arrangements, including home tutoring help or a college place and will meet the family next week while the bullies have been dealt with for any incidents in school.
Perhaps the most frustrating for Jaydene and her family though is that the bullying seemed to start from nowhere in September.
“At the beginning of the term last year they started getting all funny with me,” said Jaydene, an aspiring nail technician.
“There was a rumour I was pregnant but the first I knew about it was on this website called Ask.fm. I just got a message from an anonymous person saying ‘are you pregnant? Oh my God you’re pregnant’.
“I said no but then I kept getting messages and was put on the ‘slag list’ – a list of people who they don’t like and say are slags.
“One girl sent me a message on Facebook saying she was going to ‘get’ me and I asked ‘what have I done?’ Then when I went into school the next day, all was fine until lunchtime when a group of five of them came up to me and two of my friends and they were encouraging each other to punch me.
“I walked away and went into the toilet. Then one girl followed me in there and punched me in the eye. I was a bit shocked but then another girl walked in and punched me again in the face.”
After she reported that initial incident the bullying died down and Jaydene was able to concentrate on her education and obtained a B in English.
But the bullies came back for more the following month and several more physical assaults took place in school, which were caught on CCTV and resulted in short suspensions for several girls, during a campaign of hate that tore the bubbly teen’s confidence to shreds.
The taunts and threats to kill and maim escalated in December. One post on the Latvian-based site Ask.fm that read ‘you will come in this morning with a pretty face and go home disfigured’, even led her to consider suicide.
The online messages were passed to police, who are investigating and have spoken to three of the girls involved.
A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “We were contacted on December 10 with a report of a teenage girl receiving abusive and threatening messages via a social networking site.
“As a result of subsequent enquiries, police officers spoke to three teenage girls and their parents and all were given words of advice about the sending of malicious communication.”
After several meetings with the school between September and December and assurances the problem would be solved, Mike and Michelle said they became frustrated.
Michelle, a shop assistant, said: “It just seems wrong that Jaydene is essentially being punished for being the victim – it’s backwards. She has been set back and there is no way she will be able to catch up this year now.
“Being told that a school cannot guarantee your daughter’s safety was unbelievable.
“When your daughter is getting messages on the way to school saying ‘say hello to Mr Bottle’ and ‘I’ve got a bottle in my bag’ it has reached another level and that was when the police got involved.
“But in our meetings with the school it was suggested Jaydene could go to a special school but why should she have to go to a special school when she is the victim?”
Mike, 40, a builder, added: “The girls who were doing the bullying are still in school, they still get to finish their education, they get to go to the prom but Jaydene can’t. It just seems like the school has failed her and the way bullying is dealt with is wrong.”
The school declined to have an on-the-record discussion about the issue but Senior Vice Principal Geoff Cherrill said each incident was dealt with at the time and the staff at the school had worked extensively to ensure the issue had been dealt with appropriately.
In a statement he said: “We do not tolerate any form of bullying. We have a clear and robust policy for dealing with incidents of alleged bullying and there are sanctions in place for those students who are proven to be guilty of bullying other members of our school community.
“We have responded to recent incidents in line with this policy and, as a result, the appropriate sanctions have been put in place. We also continue to work hard to provide support for the victims of bullying and we are proud of how safe our students feel when they are at school.”
The meteoric rise of cyber-bullying in our schools
THE rise of cyber-bullying has gone hand-in-hand with the profligacy of mobile phones and internet among young people.
Youngsters of all ages, even at primary schools, have the latest iPhones or Blackberrys and as such have immediate access to the internet, not just outside school but within classrooms during lessons. It has meant those who suffer from the wrath of bullies can get no respite from the vitriol aimed at them, as Jaydene Roberts knows all too well.
She started receiving messages through a popular site called Ask.fm, a Latvian-based social network where users ask questions and give answers.
It is a rudimentary website and posters can be anonymous, meaning it is hard to trace the source of the abuse, while the website’s terms and conditions states posters take all responsibility for their comments and any disputes must be settled in Latvian courts.
Jaydene said this left her unable to prove who her tormentors were, as they hid behind the cloak of anonymity to threaten her.